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Publishers in new bid to thrash out regulatory body

Regional and national newspaper and magazine publishers have today renewed their attempts to hammer out a “Leveson-compliant” system of press regulation.

In his report on press standards published in November, Lord Justice Leveson recommended a new regulatory system for the industry backed by statute.

But regional press publishers remain vehemently opposed to any form of statutory involvement and are continuing efforts to find a new system of self-regulation which will satisfy politicians.

Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Hunt today attended the second of a series of cross-industry meetings with national press, regional press and magazine publishers and editors attempting to thrash-out a solution.

Paul Vickers, chairman of the Industry Implementation Group said afterwards:  “A cross-industry group of publishers and editors met with Lord Hunt today.

“The industry continues to make solid progress in establishing a tough, independent regulator that will protect the public and that is also compliant with Lord Justice Leveson’s principles.

“Over the Christmas period the industry – which includes national and regional newspapers and magazines – conducted a consultation exercise on the contract which will legally underpin the new regulator to give it real teeth.

“The industry will continue to liaise with Parliament and intends to ensure a new system is up and running as soon as possible.”

Newspaper Society president Adrian Jeakings has said it “essential” that the industry puts in place what he called “a tough, effective and independent system of self-regulation without statutory underpinning.”

The Leveson Report made clear that the criticisms of press culture and ethics were not directed at regional and local newspapers, that their contribution to local life was “truly without parallel,” and that regulation should not should not provide them with an “added burden.”

In his response to report, Adrian said the local press recognised that press freedom carries responsibilities and that the public must have confidence in any new press regulator.

But he added:  “A free press cannot be free if it is dependent on and accountable to a regulatory body recognised by the state.”